Brown defends decision to give farmers a water break

Written by

Gov. Jerry Brown has been taking some heat since he announced California’s first mandatory water restrictions last week. That’s because he let farmers largely off the hook – focusing the cutbacks in urban areas.

Critics say that California’s efforts to conserve water will be ineffective without major contributions from agriculture.brown-droiught

But the governor isn’t suffering the criticism silently. During an interview with the ABC news program “This Week,” the governor said limiting water allocations to agricultural areas is unnecessary – and could displace hundreds of thousands of people.

“The farmers have fallowed hundreds of thousands of acres of land. They’re pulling up vines and trees. Farmworkers, who are at the very low end of the economic scale here, are out of work.”

water-fig1-lrgBrown has ordered California cities and towns to cut their water use by 25 percent.

Agriculture accounts for about 80 percent of the water use in California. Almond farmers alone use as much water as the cities of L.A. and San Francisco combined each year.

He says farming areas are already dealing with reductions in water deliveries from state water projects – and won’t get any water from federal water projects for the second straight year.